The best part of tonight's game was that Tim Beckham got his major league hit in his first major league at bat, as a pinch hitter leading off the eighth inning. Facing the tough young righty Tanner Scheppers, Beckham took a 97 mph fastball at the bottom of the zone for a strike, and then swung through a 98 mph fastball up at his hands. He showed a good eye (or a good guess) when he let 99 mph sail past at his knees but just a bit outside, and then finished up the at bat swinging at 98 mph outside but elevated, and bouncing it through the right side of the infield.
The worst part of tonight's game was the rest of it. Oh, Yu Darvish didn't shut the Rays down, like many of us probably expected him to. He really wasn't all that good. Through five innings, he gave up five hits and walked six batters (while striking out four). He also hit David DeJesus (in the foot) to start the game. With two outs in the first inning, Evan Longoria worked a full count walk. James Loney was able to stay inside a fastball and lined a double down the left field line to score the Rays first run (Texas had scored one in the top of the inning). Then Kelly Johnson walked in a full count to load the bases, and Desmond Jennings walked in a full count to force another run home. By inning's end, Darvish had faced eight batters and thrown 40 pitches.
But the Rays couldn't get anything else on the board. Sure, they had opportunities, but they also ran themselves into two outs (caught stealing), and grounded into three double plays.
Matt Moore had one of those nights that gets lost in the statistical long view, but boy do they hurt when they happen. Over four innings, Moore struck out six batters while only walking one. yet he still gave up six runs, five of them earned.
The Rangers' run in the first inning came from a Yunel Escobar error and a Alex Rios line drive single. In the third inning though, blame goes squarely to Moore. He grooved a fastball to Mitch Moreland, who took it the other way to the left-field seats. Ian Kinsler hit a fly ball to the warning track, but Moore didn't take the warning. He grooved another fastball to Elvis Andrus, and that one also found the left-field seats. Moore went away from the fastballs, but left a hanging changeup thigh-high to Alex Rios. Same result: left-field seats.
In the fourth innings, the Rangers manufactured two more runs with a single, a stolen base, a walk, a double steal, and then an infield hit into the hole off the bat of Andrus (Escobar fielded it cleanly but Andrus beat his throw to first base).
Roberto Hernandez, Josh Lueke, and Cesar Ramos finished out the game. Lueke and Ramos gave up a run each, but Lueke should get some credit for pitching two and a third innings and helping to save the pen for the important upcoming games.
Some other notes:
- Joe Nathan came out to pitch the ninth inning with a six run lead, after pitching the two nights previous. Brian Anderson put it best: "Not our problem."
- Anyone, please come up with a list of other pitchers who have stuff as good as Lueke but get hit as often and as hard.
- Baltimore and New York both lost, but Cleveland, facing the Astros, won in the eleventh, putting them only a half game back.